The Blue Jays made the difficult decision to designate Ryan Borucki for assignment earlier this week, and he was traded to the Seattle Mariners on Saturday in exchange for minor league infielder Tyler Keenan.
The Blue Jays received a pretty small return, but that’s to be expected for a couple of reasons. First, they had zero leverage in any trade discussions because other teams knew that Borucki had to be traded or the Jays would risk losing him for nothing. Secondly, Borucki just hasn’t been very good.
It’s a shame, because despite the fact that Borucki has struggled to stay healthy and on the mound throughout his career, he has a lot of talent in that left arm of his. Southpaws that can throw in the mid to upper nineties don’t grow on trees, which is why the Blue Jays gave him such a long leash in hopes that he could put everything together.
In theory Borucki could have been exactly what the Blue Jays need right now, especially in the absence of Tim Mayza, and that’s a hard-throwing lefty for the late innings. Instead the 28 year old posted a 9.85 ERA and a 1.895 WHIP over his 11 appearances in the big leagues this season, covering just 6.1 innings. While the Jays could use some extra help in the bullpen these days, I can understand why they decided to move on from the Illinois native.
Borucki broke into the big leagues as a starting pitcher with the Blue Jays back in 2018, and was very much a pleasant surprise that season as he finished 4-6 with a 3.87 ERA and a 1.314 WHIP over 17 starts that covered 97.2 innings. Unfortunately injuries took their toll on him over the next few years, which eventually landed him in the bullpen where he had the “stuff” to potentially thrive as a late-inning lefty.
We saw flashes of that potential in 2020 as well, as he pitched to a 2.70 ERA over 21 appearances that year, striking out 11.3 batters per nine as well. Unfortunately Borucki has battled injuries and general ineffectiveness since that time, and really hasn’t been able to capture the same type of form.
He’s the type of arm that wouldn’t surprise me at all if a change of scenery did him a world of good, and it’ll be tough not to cringe a bit if he finally puts it all together as a Seattle Mariner. That said, the Blue Jays had been very patient with their 15th round pick from back in 2012, and sometimes you just have to move on, even if the talent is still pretty obvious.